Removal of Noxious Tree Weeds from Stevens Reserve

The Lord Howe Island Board has received funding through the North Coast Local Land Services to assist in the removal of recently listed tree weeds including Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora, Silky Oak Grevellia robusta and Flame Tree Brachychiton acerifolius from the Island. These trees (and other recently listed weeds) are declared noxious weeds under Weed Control Order 2014 for Lord Howe Island and they have all been detected to be spreading into bushland on Lord Howe Island.

The Board has offered to assist with the removal of listed tree weeds from leases at no expense to the leaseholder. The offer includes engagement of Craig “Macca” Wilson to fell and remove any unwanted vegetative material from the site. The trees with valuable timber such as Camphor Laurel and Silky Oak are made available to the leaseholder for milling at their own expense. This offer has been made to all leaseholders with these tree weeds and has been widely accepted.

There are only a small number of mature specimens of these tree weeds remaining on Lord Howe Island including 5 large Camphor Laurels and 1 large Silky Oak in Stevens Reserve.

Both Camphor Laurel and Silky Oak are listed as Class 3 noxious weeds on Lord Howe Island, which requires that “the plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed”. As such the Board has a legal obligation to ensure these plants are removed from the island.

Silky Oak is native to the subtropical and dry rainforests of eastern Australia north of the Coffs Harbour district. It has a wind dispersed seed that has resulted in specimens establishing in bushland including the Island’s southern mountains. To date 315 Silky Oaks have been removed from 48 weed blocks on Lord Howe Island.

Camphor Laurel is native to Japan and China and is a serious environmental weed in eastern Australia. Camphor Laurel has a fleshy fruit that is spread by birds. To date 85 Camphor Laurels have been detected and removed from 11 weed blocks on Lord Howe Island.

Stevens Reserve was planted as a timber plantation in the 1930s by the then Board of Control, following the NSW government stopping residents cutting local timber for construction. The plantation was established on Campbell Stevens’ lease which became a crown land reserve. The reserve was named in recognition of the Stevens family who had previously cleared and farmed the area. The plantation included a range of species with useful timber qualities including Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys, Hoop Pine Araucaria cunninghammii, Bunya Pine Araucaria bidwillii and Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophyllus. It is thought that between 1892 and 1898 Joseph Maiden, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, visited the island and after his visit sent seedlings of several plants including Camphor Laurel and Silky Oak as well as Small-leaved Privet Ligustrum sinense, Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum and possibly the Grey Ironbark Eucalyptus siderophloia to Campbell Stevens to plant.

Both Small-leaved Privet and Sweet Pittosporum have spread widely on the island and are also targeted for eradication with 904 individual Small-leaved Privets and 87,491 individual Sweet Pittosporum removed since 2003.

The Camphor Laurels and Silky Oak are now mature trees and will yield quality timber for use on the Island. The Board will have the timber milled on island and stored whilst curing. Once cured, the Board will hold an on island auction to sell the milled timber to residents for use on Island. This will see the timber resource returning to islanders for its intended use. The revenue from the auction will help to cover costs for the milling, with any surplus to be put back into revegetation projects.

The Board is seeking Expressions of Interest from Island residents to gauge community interest and the preferred milling dimensions sought by prospective purchasers.  Interested bidders should contact Mr Hank Bower and provide details of preferred dimensions and volumes sought.

After the trees are removed, the area will then be revegetated with local plant species from the native vegetation community that dominates Stevens Reserve.

The early removal of potential or known weeds prior to them becoming widespread saves money and effort in their eradication and helps to protect the Islands World Heritage values. For example the detection and removal of Leaf Cactus (Satan Plant) Pereskia aculeata, Ming Fern Asparagus macowanii, Cocos Palm Syagrus romanzoffiana and Cats Claw Creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati before they spread widely on the Island has progressed their eradication with little cost to the Board and community.

The Board would like to thank the community for their assistance with enabling the removal of these weeds from their leases.

Should you require any further information in regard to this assessment please don’t hesitate to contact Hank Bower at the Board on 02 6563 2066 - extension 23. 

Andrew Logan


Date: 13 February 2017